This is probably my last Infinite post for a while, but I felt the need to address one more issue on it. Sexism, which, on the surface I believe there is quite a bit in BioShock Infinite. A lot of gender roles are fulfilled at some points in the game, but then often turned upside down. It’s 1912. It’s historically accurate - but then it also does a lot to show these things can be made different.
All the alternate universes in Infinite are born from different choices and variables. Every crossroad creates two universes. Rosalind and Robert Lutece - from a story perspective - likely are different genders specifically so you can tell them apart. From a character perspective, Rosalind is a fatalist while Robert is an optimist… Why do you suppose that is? Her entire life she was likely told she can’t be what she is (an intelligent physicist and inventor) due to her gender. That would breed fatalism as much as being a white male in those times (with the same brain, same ideas, same IQ) would breed optimism. The point isn’t sexism (just as it also isn’t racism), the point is historical accuracy.
And she succeeded in the end, proving a lot of people wrong. She invented a lot of technology that is super spoiler-y and I’ll leave alone for this post. Speaking of spoilers, might be good to stop reading here if you haven’t played the game.
The only issue I have some disappointment over is that I wish there were a way for you to play as a female Booker DeWitt. By all intents and purposes, there is an alternate universe where he is a her (Brooklyn DeWitt?). Just as there is one where Elizabeth is Elijah or some other male name. That would require an insane amount of work (and about double the budget, most likely), however, and I partially understand why they didn’t do it.
Daisy Fitzroy is said to “need a man” to complete what it is she is doing. I don’t believe this; she only used Booker because he was publicized as some kind of enemy to the Founders. It literally doesn’t matter to her what gender Booker is, just that his name is associated with False Shepherd and that can be used. Daisy Fitzroy is apparently one of the highest IQ characters in Columbia, as well, if you read some of her background info. She is leading a rebellion against an oppressive regime and delegating responsibility to many different sources; she is who is answered to. Pretty feminist, if you ask me. Yes, she turns out to be bad, but everyone does except Elizabeth, who turns out to be the most powerful, most intelligent, and only well-adjusted character in the game.
Booker is shown the way by Elizabeth. He’s in denial and has been for decades. She gets out of the tower and pretty much figures out life, while Booker only develops as a person because of her. You might think she only assists, but the woman leads. She is the one with her hand on the leash by the end of the game. One might argue this would never have happened unless a male character intervened with her life, but one might argue that this exact same turn of events has happened in another universe with a male Liz and a female Booker. That’s the point of the game. The point of the NAME of the game, even. That this story happens in an infinite number of ways with many different variables, but it always happens. I would make the argument that it actually makes the genders of the characters utterly unimportant.
In fact, it makes almost everything about the characters unimportant except their motivations. External differences will only have a shallow effect on their attitudes, but their motivations would remain exactly the same. That’s the point.
I’m not defending sexism, as it is present in the game. But I really just don’t believe it’s a sexist game. Racism is present in the game as well, but it’s most certainly not a racist game. Ken Levine and company are notorious overthinkers and I do not believe this is an issue that they didn’t discuss while creating the game. I think he’s talked about racism a lot more as that seems to be what the media has brought attention to, but when asked about sexism, he noted that Elizabeth was the most powerful person in Columbia and when given freedom, became the best person in the game.
I’ve summarized this, of course, but the point is simple: nothing is as it seems in BioShock Infinite.